“White Christmas” Confidential
More than sixty years after Bing Crosby lent his bass-baritone croon to Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas,” the song still sits safely in the realm of the legendary. Who doesn’t have the image of Crosby, standing in the Hollywood snow with his White Christmas co-stars, permanently frozen in their mind? His version of the song has sold more than 50 million copies since its release, making it the best-selling single of all time.
Given all that, we think we can make a pretty safe bet there are couple of things you don’t know about the famous holiday tune.
For example, the version that can be heard in the classic White Christmas movie wasn’t actually the first version committed to celluloid. In fact, the first film to feature the song was the Crosby/Fred Astaire vehicle Holiday Inn—15 years earlier (it’s the namesake of the hotel chain, too).
Crosby, who famously said “a jackdaw with a cleft palate could have sung the song successfully” (which turned out to be both un-PC and ironic, given that the song dominated the rest of Crosby’s career), wasn’t even supposed to sing the song during the iconic soundstage snow-dusting scene. In the original script, the tune, which Crosby originally recorded ten years earlier, was given to co-star Marjorie Reynolds to sing. During filming, the producers turned the song into a duet between the co-stars.
In 1975, the American-run radio station in Saigon broadcast the classic recording, not as a plea for a white Christmas—even in the winter those are pretty rare in Vietnam—but as a secret warning to American citizens in Vietnam to evacuate the country as the U.S. Army pulled out for the last time.
Recently-released versions of the song feature Taylor Swift, the punk band Stiff Little Fingers, and hair-metal rockers Twisted Sister.